[By Marc Taro Holmes in Montreal, CA] The other day MTL:USK sketcher Elissa Baltzer arranged a sketching expedition to the Lakeshore Light Opera. We took in a dress rehearsal for their production of Gilbert and Sullivan's Ruddigore or: The Witch's Curse.
This was the first fitting for the costumes, so we had an excellent opportunity to sketch while the costume designers lined the actors up and reviewed them top to bottom.
Sketching a rehearsal is much easier than an actual performance. At least some of the time the lights are on. And when they're testing stage lighting, you're free to use a small lamp (or your smart-phone's flashlight) to see what you're drawing.
Something I *don't* recommend in an actual performance. The people around you deserve to see the show without distraction.
Naturally, being a Gilbert and Sullivan piece, the story is on the silly side. A brothers' love triangle, a madwoman, a bevvy of eternal bridesmaids and ten generations of cursed baronets providing an excuse for rapid fire songs delivered with an auctioneer's rhythm.
The music struck me as a precursor to Rap. It certainly has the same aspects of tongue twisting flow and cutting humor. Apparently this kind of vaudeville is called a Patter Song.
The first act (the love triangle) was confusing to me. I'm not sure if we're supposed to feel sorry for the disguised Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd? Or laugh at him for his foppishness. I certainly didn't like his sailor brother who steals his girl! What a jerk! I expect this makes more sense when seen properly :) But maybe not!
I'm sure G&S are thinking - "Whatever! - Just send the bridesmaids bouncing across the stage again!". Empire line dresses seem designed to wake up the husbands in the audience.
Things start to get good in the second act, after the appearance of the Wicked Baron, culminating in an epic scene where young Ruthven is confronted by the ghosts of his cursed ancestors.
Sorry if this is a spoiler, but really, I think it's not too soon.
It seemed that good old G&S had been looking at a trunk full of costumes thinking - what can we write that uses all these moth eaten outfits? I know - second act - ghosts across the centuries!
I was having trouble keeping track of characters, so I was calling these guys Shakespeare Ghost, Tycho Ghost, Crusader Ghost, Pope Ghost, etc - and there was one cross-dressing ghost I was calling Baron Olando.
So that was our epic sketching night at the operetta!
Probably if you look around, you'll find a theater in your own area that would enjoy having some artists drop by. Actors love being drawn :) And stage managers love social media about their performance.